November 2012 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of November 2012.
New Proposal Presented to End Conflict in Syria (Nov. 1): China, one of the Syrian government's main allies, presents a new proposal to end the conflict in Syria. The plan calls on stronger international support for refugees and a truce brought about in phases. The proposal does not call for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. (Nov. 11): Syria's opposition groups agree to form a new governing body that will unify the many rebel groups under one umbrella. The 50-person body, the Syrian National Initiative, will replace the Syrian National Council, which has come under fire for being largely ineffective and having few leaders living in Syria. The new organization will include younger leaders and will have strong representation inside the country. It will also oversee the opposition's military and will manage the distribution of weapons and funds. The group's leader, Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, says he hopes the new body will be viewed with legitimacy and receive financial assistance and weapons from the international community. (Nov. 12): Tanks from Israel fire on Syrian artillery units in response to mortar fire near an army post in the Israeli-held Golan Heights. (Nov. 13): France becomes the first Western country to officially recognize the new Syrian rebel coalition. (Nov. 14): The government in Syria calls France's recognition of the Syrian rebel coalition an "immoral" act. Meanwhile, for the third day in a row, Syrian authorities order airstrikes on the area near their border with Turkey. (Nov. 26): The Syrian rebels seize a key military base and airport near Damascus. They also take control of a hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates River. (Nov. 29): Commercial air traffic is stopped and internet access is unavailable throughout Syria. U.S. government officials say that the Obama administration is getting closer to recognizing the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as well as considering more intervention to remove al-Assad from power.
Israel Kills Hamas Commander in Gaza Attack (Nov. 14): In one of its biggest attacks on Gaza since the invasion four years ago, Israel launches an aerial attack and hits at least 20 targets. One of those targets is a Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari. He is killed while traveling through Gaze in a car. The airstrikes are in response to recent, repeated rocket attacks by Palestinian militants located in Gaza. (Nov. 15): Israel continues a second day of airstrikes on Gaza and the Palestinian death toll rises to 11. Meanwhile, Hamas fires rockets into southern Israel, killing three civilians. The Israeli deaths will likely lead to Israel increasing its military offensive in Gaza. In a nationally televised address, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi says that his country will stand by the Palestinians, "The Egyptian people, the Egyptian leadership, the Egyptian government, and all of Egypt is standing with all its resources to stop this assault, to prevent the killing and the bloodshed of Palestinians." (Nov. 18): Israel continues to target members of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, and Hamas launches several hundred rockets, with some hitting Tel Aviv. Egypt, while a staunch supporter of Hamas, attempts to broker a peace agreement between Hamas and Israel to prevent the conflict from further destabilizing the region. (Nov. 21): Egypt's foreign minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, and U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton announce that a cease-fire has been signed. Both sides agree to end hostilities toward each other and Israel says it will open Gaza border crossings, allowing the flow of products and people into Gaza, potentially lifting the 5-year blockade that has caused much hardship to those living in the region.
Morsi Declares Authority over Courts (Nov. 22): Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announces a brazen power grab when he declares authority over the courts, thereby removing any check on his actions by the courts. He says the move is necessary because the judiciary, made up of Hosni Mubarak appointees, is threatening to suspend the constitutional assembly before it completes the task of drafting a new constitution. Progress on writing a new constitution has been stalled by members of the opposition on the committee. Morsi also says the edict would bring "political, social and economic stability" and remove barriers to a smooth transition of power. The decree is met with large protests in Tahrir Square, the scene of the uprising against Mubarak, and international condemnation. It also fuels accusations that one autocrat has succeeded another. (Nov. 26): Morsi seems to be backtracking in response to the outpouring of rage, saying only "acts of sovereignty" will be exempt from judicial oversight. The clarification does little to placate his opponents. (Nov. 29): Under threat of being suspended by the courts, the constitutional assembly hastily approves a draft document, which is widely criticized for its ambiguity and lack of depth and originality. The draft constitution passes because Morsi's opponents on the committee from secular groups and Coptic Christians boycott the vote. Morsi says he will hold a referendum on the constitution as soon as possible.
UN Approves Non-Member State Status for Palestine (Nov. 29): The United Nations General Assembly approves an upgrade from the Palestinian Authority's current observer status to that of a non-member state. The vote comes after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to the General Assembly and asks for a "birth certificate" for his country. Of the 193 nations in the General Assembly, 138 vote in favor of the upgrade in status. While the vote is a victory for Palestine, it is a diplomatic setback for the U.S. and Israel. Having the title of "non-member observer state" will allow Palestine access to international organizations such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). If they join the ICC, Palestine can file complaints of war crimes against Israel. In response to the UN vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces that Israel will not transfer about $100 million in much-needed tax revenue owed to the struggling Palestinian Authority and will resume plans to build 3,000-unit settlement in an area that divides the north and the south parts of the West Bank, thereby denying the Palestinians any chance for having a contiguous state.